Posted by: shoji | September 6, 2007

The Car Pool Problem

Car pooling is an obvious solution to reducing auto-emissions and improving traffic flow. There are, of course, many benefits from reducing the number of cars on the roads.Unfortunately, increasing car pooling is difficult. Some say “American’s love their cars”, but the study by Honda summarized below shows that UK motorists don’t like to share, either.

Another example illustrative of the solo journey is set in California. CA permits the Prius and some alt-drive train vehicles to use the HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. Normally, vehicles in the HOV lanes must have 2 or 3 (depending on the roadway) people in the vehicle. This policy, though popular to increase the purchases of alt-drive train vehicles, circumvents car pooling. Importantly, doubling the number of passengers in a vehicle (which usually means going from one [driver] to two [driver + passenger]), effectively doubles the gas mileage. All of a sudden, that not-so-fuel-efficient SUV approaches the mileage of a fuel-sipper.

Although the UK drivers express a “willingness” to car pool (or “lift share” in their parlance), I am unfortunately skeptical of any changes. Ideas on how to change the status quo? The one success story I know of is the slug-lanes over toll bridges and toll roads in certain metro areas.

Anyone know how ride share programs like GoLoCo are doing?

clipped from www.autobloggreen.com
Honda’s point is that parents driving but one kid to school are not helping really anyone by clogging up the roads. A better alternative is to carpool (or, if available, I’d say public transportation). Honda points out statistics provided by the Department for Education Services (DfES), RAC Foundation and Liftshare.com that show that of the 9.6 million school children under the age of 16 in the UK, 27 percent of them are driven to school by car. And, since the national average is 2.1 people per car on the school run, that means there are a lot of empty seats moving between home and school. Combine this with Honda’s research that found that 60 percent of parents “knew of another child within 500 metres of their home that attended the same school as their own child,” and you’ve got the makings of a carpool (excuse me, liftshare) bonanza. Fewer cars on the road not only means less traffic, but also less fuel being burned, fewer CO2 emissions, etc.

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